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49ers humbled by Super Bowl champion Giants

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith greets Giants

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith greets Giants quarterback Eli Manning. (Oct. 14, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers were waiting for this one. The Giants beat them in overtime in the NFC Championship Game last season on a field goal after a fumble, and the 49ers kept thinking they should have won that game and gone to the Super Bowl.

That's not what they're thinking now -- not after the Giants battered the 49ers, 26-3, at Candlestick Park, where by game's end, it seemed as if the only people left from the announced crowd of 69,732 were blue-shirted fans chanting "Let's go, Giants!''

When someone asked 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers if the defeat was humbling, he said, "We're not the kings of the NFL; the Giants are."

They certainly ruled Sunday.

"I don't know that I have a lesson learned right at this moment,'' 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "But we'll think through it and see if we can't get it corrected. The Giants played a heck of a game."

San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith, who had thrown 249 passes without an interception before throwing one against Minnesota three weeks ago, threw three Sunday.

"More turnovers than we're accustomed to," Harbaugh said. "We put ourselves in a position we couldn't come back from. Plan-wise, obviously it wasn't the right one. And you try to figure out what the next one will be."

Quickly. The 49ers play the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night at Candlestick.

Smith sprained a finger on his throwing hand last week against Buffalo and the finger was taped, but Harbaugh said he didn't think it bothered the quarterback, who did throw a 55-yard pass to Randy Moss. And Smith agreed.

"They are a good team,'' said Smith, as if anyone needed a reminder that the NFL champion is anything but. "They don't give up anything easily. I feel like I forced some things. Any time you turn the ball over like that, it's tough to win."

Smith pointed out what everyone knows: The Giants' pass rush makes it difficult on quarterbacks. Smith was sacked four times and his stand-in, Colin Kaepernick, was sacked twice.

"They are good up front," Smith said, "so you can't be back there hanging out. You have to be efficient, get the ball out. They are good. They get their hands on balls. First half, a couple of tipped balls. Maybe I rushed a couple. Hindsight makes it easy to say that.''

Smith said each of his three interceptions was different.

"The first [by Prince Amukamara], I stepped into the pocket and didn't have great visibility . . . Eventually, you get to a make-or-break point. You have to force some balls. It's tough to gauge something like that."

New York Sports